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reveal my situation, and such a treaty (however prudently managed) cannot long be kept secret, especially as Leasy is now convinced of Garrick's resolution.
“I am exceedingly hurried at present, so excuse omissions, and do not flag, when we come to the point. I'll answer for it, we shall see many golden campaigns.
" Yours ever,
“R. B. SHERIDAN.
“You have heard, I suppose, that Foote is likely never to show his face again.”
“January 31st, 1776. “DEAR SIR, “I am glad you have found a person who will let
have the money at four per cent. The security will be very clear; but, as there is some degree of risk, as in the case of fire, I think four per cent. uncommonly reasonable. It will scarcely be any advantage to pay it off, for your houses and chapel, I suppose, bring in much more.
Therefore, while you can raise money at four per cent. on the security of your theatrical share only, you will be right to alter, as little as you can, the present disposition of your property.
“As to your quitting Bath, I cannot see why you should doubt a moment about it. Surely, the undertaking in which you embark such a sum as £10,000 ought to be the chief object of your attention—and, supposing you did not choose to give up all your time to the theatre, you may certainly employ your. self more profitably in London than in Bath. But, if you are willing (as I suppose you will be) to make the theatre the great object of your attention, rely on it you may lay aside every doubt of not finding your account in it; for the fact is, we shall have nothing but our own equity to consult in making and obtaining any demand for exclusive trouble. Leasy is utterly unequal to any department in the theatre. He has an opinion of me, and is very willing to let the whole burthen and ostensibility be taken off his shoulders. But I certainly should not give up
my time and labour (for his superior advantage, having so much greater a share) without some exclusive advantage. Yet, I should by no means make the demand till I had shown myself equal to the task. My father purposes to be with us but one year; and that only to give me what advantage he can from his experience. He certainly must be paid for his trouble, and so certainly must you. You have experience and character equal to the line you would undertake ; and it never can enter into anybody's head that you were to give your time or any part of your attention gratis, because you had a share in the theatre. I have spoke on this subject both to Garrick and Leasy, and you will find no demur on any side to your gaining a certain income from the theatre-greater, I think, than you could make out of it-and in this the theatre will be acting only for its own advantage. At the same time, you may always make leisure for a few select scholars, whose interest may also serve the greater cause of your patentee-ship.
“ I have had a young man with me who wants to appear as a singer in plays or oratorios. I think you'll find him likely to be serviceable in either. He is not one and twenty, and has no conceit. He has a good tenor voice-very good ear, and a great deal of execution, of the right kind. He reads notes very quick, and can accompany himself. This is Betsy's verdict, who sat in judgment on him on Sunday last. I have given him no answer, but engaged him to wait till you come to town.
“ You must not regard the reports in the paper about a third theatre-that's all nonsense.
“ Betsy's and my love to all. Your grandson astonishes everybody by his vivacity, his talents for music and poetry, and the most perfect integrity of mind.
“Yours most sincerely,
“ R. B. SHERIDAN." In the following June, the contract with Garrick was perfected; and, in a paper drawn up by Mr. Sheridan many years after, I find the shares of the respective purchasers thus stated :
£ Mr. Sheridan, two-fourteenths of the whole... 10,000 Mr. Linley, ditto
10,000 Dr. Ford, three ditto ...
Mr. Ewart, though originally mentioned as one of the parties, had no concern in the final arrangement.
The first contribution which the dramatic talent of the new manager furnished to the stock of the theatre, was an alteration of Vanbrugh's comedy, “The Relapse," which was brought out on the 24th of February, 1777, under the title of “ The Trip to Scarborough."
In reading the original play, we are struck with surprise, that Sheridan should ever have hoped to be able to defecate such dialogue, and, at the same time, leave any of the wit, whose whole spirit is in the lees, behind. The very life of such characters as Berinthia is their licentiousness, and it is with them, as with objects that are luminous from putrescence-to remove their taint is to extinguish their light. If Sheridan, indeed, had substituted some of his own wit for that which he took away, the inanition that followed the operation would have been much less sensibly felt. Bnt to be so liberal of a treasure so precious, and for the enrichment of the work of another, could hardly have been expected from him. Besides, it may be doubted whether the subject had not already yielded its utmost to Vanbrugh, and whether, even in the hands of Sheridan, it could have been brought to bear a second crop of wit.
“The Trip to Scarborough " proving a comparative failure, Mr. Sheridan revived the drooping glories of Old Drury by writing the unrivalled comedy, “ The School for Scandal.”
It is a curious fact that, although this species of composition requires more worldly experience and knowledge of human nature than any other, almost all our best comedies have been written by very young men.
Those of Congreve were all produced before he was five-and-twenty. Farquhar produced “ The Constant Couple” in his two-and-twentieth year, and
died at thirty. Vanbrugh was a young ensign when he sketched out " The Relapse” and “The Provoked Wife," and Sheridan reached the summit of his dramatic reputation at six and twenty.
This work was no rapid offspring of a careless but vigorous fancy, anticipating the results of experience by a sort of second. sight inspiration ; on the contrary, it was the deliberate result of many doubtful experiments, gradually unfolding beauties unforeseen even by him who produced them, and arriving, step by step, at perfection. Mr. Moore proves that such was the tardy process by which “ The School for Scandal” was produced, by laying before the public the first sketches of its plan and catalogue, which cannot fail to interest all those who delight tracing the growth and application of genius.
The first sketch was probably written before “The Rivals," or at least very soon after it. It appears to have been Sheridan's intention to satirize some of the gossips of Bath, from the following hints, which are headed
“THE SLANDERERS.—A Pump-Room Scene. “ Friendly caution to the newspapers. “It is whispered
“She is a constant attendant at church, and very frequently takes Dr. M‘Brawn home with her.
“Mr. Worthy is very good to the girl ;--for my part, I dare swear he has no ill intention.
“What! Major Wesley's Miss Montague?
“ Lud, ma'am, the match is certainly broke-no creature knows the cause ;—some say a flaw in the lady's character, and others, in the gentleman's fortune.
“ To be sure they do say-
“She was inclined to be a little too plump before she went.
“ The most intrepid blush ;—I've known her complexion stand fire for an hour together.
“She had twins,'—How ill-natured ! as I hope to be saved, ma'am, she had but one ! and that a little starved brat not worth mentiuning.
The following is the opening scene of his first sketch, from which it will be perceived that the original plot was wholly different from what it is at present,--Sir Peter and Lady Teazle being at that time not yet in existence.
“ LADY SNEERWELL and SPATTER. * “ Lady S. The paragraphs, you say, were all inserted. Spat. They were, madam.
Lady S. Did you circulate the report of Lady Brittle's intrigue with Captain Boastall ?
“Spat. Madam, by this Lady Brittle is the talk of half the town, and in a week will be treated as a demirep.
“ Lady S. What have you done as to the innuendo of Miss Nicely's fondness for her own footman ?
Spat. 'Tis in a fair train, ma'am. I told it to my hair. dresser,-he courts a milliner's girl in Pall-Mall, whose mistress has a first cousin who is waiting-woman to Lady Clackit. think in about fourteen hours it must reach Lady Clackit, and then you know the business is done. Lady S. But is that sufficient, do
think? Spat. O Lud, ma'am, I'll undertake to ruin the character of the primmest prude in London with half as much. Hal ha! Did your ladyship never hear how poor Miss Shepherd lost her lover and her character last summer at Scarborough ? this was the whole of it. One evening at Lady —'s the conversation happened to turn on the difficulty of breeding Nova Scotia sheep in England. 'I have known instances,
'for last spring a friend of mine, Miss Shepherd of Ramsgate, had a Nova Scotia sheep that produced her twins.'—What cries the old deaf dowager Lady Bowlwell
, "has Miss Shepherd of Ramsgate been brought to bed of twins? This mistake, as you may suppose, set the company a laughing. However, the next day, Miss Verjuice Amarilla Lonely, who had been of the party, talking of Lady Bowlwell's deafness, began to tell what had happened ; but, unluckily, forgetting to say a word of the sheep, it was understood by the company, and, in every circle, many believed, that Miss Shepherd of Ramsgate had actually been brought to bed of a fine boy and girl ; and, in less than a fortnight, there were people who could name the father, and the farm-house where the babes were put out to nurse. * Afterwards Snake.